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Alaska Public Radio Network - Murkowski Unveils Early Education Legislation

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By Josh Edge

Senator Lisa Murkowski unveiled the "Early Intervention for Graduation Success Bill" on Friday at East High School in Anchorage.

Murkowski says this legislation would not introduce a new program, but would expand on dropout legislation that is already in place.

Alaska has long struggled with high dropout rates, which have been up to twice the national average.

Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Superintendent, Steve Atwater, says that in just a couple weeks, he and teachers will see kindergartners in class for the first time who are all over the map when it comes to being ready for school.

Anchorage School District Superintendent Carol Comeau, says that identifying those kids who aren't quite ready at an early age is a vital part of the process.

Once a student is identified as needing help, Comeau says there are additional steps that will need to take place.

Murkowski says that the dollar amount allocated to the current dropout program will remain at 125 million dollars per year nation-wide. The bill would provide competitive, renewable five-year grants to fund states' sustainable dropout prevention programs.

The grants could fund early childhood educator tuition assistance for teachers who will remain in that state… increase and monitor early childhood program quality… align the curriculum and performance standards from kindergarten through college… and expand access to early childhood education.


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